By Kelley McMillan
Picture this: You’ve planned the ultimate ski holiday for your family and friends.
You’ve finally arrived in Vail.
The flakes are flying and the slopes are calling—but, of course, you’ve been tasked with coordinating, well, everything.
You’ve got the kids to manage, gear to rent, ski school lessons to book, and dinner places to scout.
Maybe you’ll just do a half day tomorrow…
This is a vacation you planned.
Don’t you deserve an awesome outing on the hill, too?
But we know how hard it can be to plan a day for yourself.
Who has the time?
So here, we’ve put together a few suggestions to guide you through the perfect ski day at Vail.
With more than 5,000 acres of skiable terrain, Vail is massive and offers options for skiers of all abilities.
If you don’t know your way around, sign up for a complimentary two-hour mountain tour, which leaves from the Game Creek desk (adjacent to the top of the Eagle Bahn gondola; hop on in Lionshead) and from the top of Gondola One (catch it from Vail Village) at 10:30 a.m. daily.
If you prefer to explore on your own, head to lift four, Mountain Top Express, which accesses a good mix of beginner, intermediate, and expert trails.
From the top of four, schuss down Ramshorn for a great intermediate cruiser.
If you want to dial things up, dip into Vail’s legendary back bowls, which serve up a mix of groomed and ungroomed runs suited for intermediates and experts.
Try Sun Down Bowl for sun-drenched slopes with a nice pitch, beautiful views of the Rockies, and easy access back to the front-side.
Beginners should head to Golden Peak, a great spot to fine tune parallel turns or ski with small children.
Here’s the thing about Vail: Not only is the skiing amazing, the food is, too.
And sometimes, a gal’s just gotta treat herself.
For a luxurious fine-dining experience with stunning views of the Gore Range and an excellent wine list, try The 10th, located mid-mountain at the bottom of Look Ma run.
It’s the perfect place to indulge if you’re skiing with a friend.
(Tip: It also makes for a great date night destination; the gondola can still zip you up from the village after the lifts stop turning.
For something more low-key and killer burgers, try Buffalo’s restaurant, conveniently located at the top of lifts 4, 5, and 11.
Adventurous types should pack a picnic and grill sausages at Belle’s Camp at the top of Blue Sky Basin (hint: head that way early; it takes a fair amount of time to get there), where you’ll find a deck and two DIY grills—perfect for sunny spring ski days.
Your ski vacation will be infinitely more enjoyable if you invest a little time in your technique.
And what better way to buy some time for yourself (and model the importance of ski school to your children) than for momma to sign up for ski lessons?
Thankfully, Vail has plenty of options for women’s-only classes:
Learning Enviornment For Up To Four Women
Led by a female instructor from the Vail Ski & Snowboard School, this group ski lesson offers a great learning environment for up to four women.
From foundation-building basics and brushing up on techniques to meeting other like-minded women, these lessons are ideal for beginners and intermediates looking for camaraderie while improving their skiing.
Lessons take place from 12:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. during peak holiday periods, including December 26, 2014 through January 3, 2015; February 13–22, 2015; and March 6–April 5, 2015.
Three Day Clinics
Led by a team of elite female instructors, these three-day clinics are tailored to help women take their skiing to the next level.
Instructors go out of their way to create a fun and supportive learning environment and use video and individual coaching to help you improve.
The clinic also includes 50 percent off gear rental, a complimentary breakfast, lunch, and an après ski session.
You’ll be shredding black diamonds in no time at all. Clinics are offered January 23–25, 2015 and February 27–March 1, 2015.
Once you’ve tuned up your skiing, you’ll want to carve to your heart’s content.
Here are a few suggestions to keep the kids occupied (with adult supervision—calling all dads) while you lace figure eights down the mountain until the lifts stop spinning.
Located at the top of the Eagle Bahn gondola, Adventure Ridge
is a paradise for snow-loving kids.
From tubing and zip-lining to snow-biking and trampolines, Adventure Ridge delivers the kinds of activities kids dream of and will keep them entertained for hours.
Send the kids (and dad) to Bōl, a restaurant that features a yummy menu, big projection TVs (perfect for watching sports), and 10 bowling lanes.
Meet the family there for après when you’ve taken all the laps your legs can stand.
Perched atop Vail Mountain next to Eagle Bahn gondola sits an outpost of the Vail Nature Center.
Kids (and adults) will enjoy learning about (and maybe even spotting) local flora and fauna on a complimentary guided nature walk with an expert naturalist.